50 Shades of Valentine's Day Grinch
Just as soon as the new year’s eve glittery party hats are cleared off store shelves, out comes annual merchandise that – for me – brings on feelings of both annoyance, boredom, and a soupçon of depression thrown in for good measure. Oh man, here we go again. Happy damn Valentine’s Day, everyone.
My potpourri of emotions directed at February 14th is clearly not what consumer manufacturers are hoping for, and luckily for them the majority of Americans don’t share my sentiment. The National Retail Federation is projecting a whopping $18.9 billion will be spent on Valentine’s Day this year, ranging from cards, candy, flowers, jewelry, a night out, and gift cards. What’s not to love about spreading that kinda love? One would think, as a romance writer, that Valentine’s Day would be right up there with tear-jerker movies as one of the top things to make my heart go pitter patter. Yet for all the assertions of love and devotion that’ll undoubtedly be expressed this coming Saturday, Valentine’s Day mostly leaves me feeling kinda cold. But why? I ask myself. Why?
Delving deep into my own grinchy psyche directed toward Valentine’s Day, I think my disdain stems primarily from how forced the whole thing feels. All those folks in any sort of committed relationship have to DECLARE THEIR LOVE on February 14th. Send flowers! Buy chocolate! Get engaged! Isn’t it romantic? But see, the thing is, it’s not all that romantic when the romance seems required. Obligatory. Something you have to do because greeting card companies, chocolate makers, and public pressure decide that you must.
I remember one Valentine’s Day, years ago, when my dh and I were a fairly new item. We decided, because it was the thing to do and we knew no better, that we’d go to dinner that Feb 14. Reservations were hard to come by since we hadn’t planned ahead, but at last we secured something and off to dinner we went. It was terrible. To accommodate all the couples wanting to DECLARE THEIR LOVE that Valentine’s Day, the restaurant had jammed in extra tables so we were all in each other’s laps as we did the Valentine dine. Waiters rushed around like headless chickens, and the massive crowds afforded us as much privacy as a New York City subway car. We vowed never to do it again.
When I think about events in my life that have been truly and utterly romantic in the purest sense of the word, what come to mind are small, spontaneous, seemingly innocuous incidents that have occurred for no other purpose than for the giver to show his love. An unexpected ride home from the train station when it’s pouring rain. Renting a funny movie when I had my wisdom teeth pulled to help me forget the pain. Coming home from a stressful day to find dinner ready and waiting. Being kind and supportive and understanding in times of crisis and pain. This to me is romance at its finest: an unexpected and heartfelt expression of love.
The one positive outcome of Valentine’s Day is that it serves as a reminder that it’s good to do those things. It’s good to remember those who are meaningful in our lives and to honestly and openly tell them so. It’s also good to do that more than once a year. So let me break away from my grinchy growls and remember to express thanks to all you wonderful readers who stop by our blog, write comments, and keep us Lady Smutters inspired throughout the year. To all of you I say: Happy Valentine’s Day. :-)